Draft Independence Referendum Bill: here’s what it means

Today the Scottish Government has published a consultation on a draft Independence Referendum Bill.

If there is an independence referendum, it will not be because the result of the 2014 referendum has not been respected – it will be because the promises made to Scotland have not been kept.

Here’s what you need to know.

The SNP Government was elected on an explicit manifesto pledge that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to consider an independence referendum if Scotland is faced with the threat of being dragged out of the EU against our will.

Here’s what the SNP manifesto said:

“We believe that the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is clear and sustained evidence that independence has become the preferred option of a majority of the Scottish people – or if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will.”

Following the EU referendum Scotland now faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU.

Scotland didn’t choose to be in this situation – the Tories put us here. That is despite every part of Scotland voting to remain in Europe.




A Tory government with just one MP out of 59 here is now telling Scotland we have no choice in the matter.



And, it’s now clear that the right wing of the Tory party is seeking to hijack the referendum to make sure Brexit means ‘hard Brexit’.

In her speech to the Conservative conference, Theresa May all but said that the future of the UK would be outside the EU single market. This would be bad for jobs and investment – here in Scotland and across the UK.






Analysis shows a potential cost to the Scottish economy of up to £11.2 billion per year by 2030. And the independent Fraser of Allander Institute has forecast that Brexit could cost Scotland up to 80,000 jobs within a decade.

We are exploring all options to protect Scotland’s place in the EU.  

The SNP has taken action to protect Scotland’s relationship with, and place in, the European Union. Find out more here.

In her opening address to conference, Nicola Sturgeon outlined further steps that will be taken. We will:

  • Seek to build a coalition of MPs against hard Brexit at Westminster

  • Ensure that the Scottish Parliament’s voice is heard

  • Seek additional powers for the Scottish Parliament

  • Table specific proposals to protect Scotland’s interests in Europe and keep us in the single market

Find out more here.

In 2014, Scotland was told it was an equal partner in the UK. The moment has come to prove it.

The consultation beginning today will ensure that a referendum bill, if it is the chosen route, will – like the 2014 referendum – meet the gold standard of democracy and fairness.

If it becomes clear that it is the best or only way of safeguarding Scotland’s interests – and in line with our manifesto commitment – parliament must be able to consider the option of an independence referendum, to allow the people of Scotland to vote on independence before the UK leaves the EU.

The legislation for another referendum will be ready for introduction to the Scottish Parliament at any time after the triggering of Article 50, should it prove to be necessary to protect Scotland’s interests.

Give your views on the draft bill today, by taking part in the consultation.